Sometimes genius comes and goes without much notice or fanfare. Such is the case with the late Kevin Gilbert.
Gilbert was an exceptional songwriter, singer, and producer. While his talents were recognized by many of his musical peers and his small cadre of fervently loyal fans, his music and talents remained and continue to remain largely ignored by the general population.
Thud showcases Gilbert's satirical bite, his talents as a producer, multi-instrumentalist, and vocalist. But what was Gilbert's strongest suit was his lyrical skills, his masterful way with words and the way his pained vocals delivered his clever lyrics.
Much like the Toy Matinee album he'd done a few years before with Patrick Leonard, there's not a weak track on the album, all songs showing evidence of his troubled musical genius.
Waiting excellently dispels the myth of the promise of better days to come. In Gilbert's vocal delivery you hear his skepticism that the better times he's waiting for will ever actually arrive. If anything you hear a certainty of future disappointments that the longer he waits for things the less apt they are to happen.
Tea For One captures the pain of loneliness and unrequited love with a stark emotional poignance that allows the listener to feel the pain of Duncan, the song's protagonist, and make an emotional connection with the music that is lacking in more conventional pop songs. Similarly, Tears of Audrey, is a song of putting up walls to keep love out. It gives the fear of pain of broken heart a name-- throughout the song the listener wants the tears of Audrey to fall, to break down the emotional walls many of us are guilty of putting up.
All of us have a dark side, a Shadow Self, we keep at bay-- a darker evil version of ourselves that feeds off of our negativity and grows in strength the more we give into that negativity. Shadow Self is a message from that dark side we all have, acting as a warning to help prevent us from letting our Shadow Self take us over.
But of all the tracks on Thud the one that is almost spooky in its clairvoyance-- it's lyrics even more true today than they were at the time of the albums release is Goodness Gracious:
I'm not listening anymore
Cause the spooks are in the White House
and they've justified a war
So wake me when they notify we're gonna fight some more
Who knows what music Gilbert would have created were he still alive today? What stories would he gone on to tell? What messages would he be delivering us through his darkly emotional lyrics? Unfortunately the world will never find out. But at least he left us with a few glimpses into his musical genius. Thud is an overlooked album that is worthy of not just a first glance, but also of several subsequent glances.
If you've missed out on Gilbert's work in the past, it's not going anywhere and it's never too late to sit up and take notice.